Rebecca Smilowska walked out of Pierce Terrace Elementary school Monday wiping tears from out her eyes as children and parents shuffle through the front doors.
"I'm so emotional," she said. "They were probably more ready for me than I am."
Her and her husband, Staff Sgt. Brain Smilowska, walked their two girls to school that morning and were among many of other parents who decided to accompany their children on the first day of the new school year.
Monday kicked off the 2016-2017 academic school year for children attending school on Fort Jackson. Kids attending Dent Middle School and Richland Northeast started yesterday.
"Our first day -- and first week -- is about building routines," said Audrey Griffin, C.C. Pinckney Elementary School principal. " I tell teachers to use this week as review, use this week to establish routines. If you build those routines now, we don't have to come back and re-set them."
For teachers, preparation for the first day of the new year began as the previous school term was coming to a close, said Randy James, fifth grade teacher at C.C. Pinckney.
"That was when we looked to see where we were and what we wanted to do academically with students," he said, "and how we wanted to promote social growth, as well as academic growth. A lot of (training) was done over the summer. And last week was also looking at training for our new
Faculty from both schools on Fort Jackson celebrated the start of the new year with an opening ceremony at C.C. Pinckney August 12th. In attendance at the ceremony was Department of Defense Education Activity Superintendent Christy Huddleston and Community Superintendent Kathleen
Reiss talked about the importance of change. She encouraged that as educators they should focusing on changing and keeping up with the times.
"Our schools needs to be hubs of academic achievement and greeting grounds for critical thinkers and lifelong learners," Reiss said. "Change is a prerequisite to improvement."
Reiss shared some of her favorite quotes about change to get the group excited about embracing it.
"If you do not change directions you might end up where you're heading," she quoted. "We cannot become what we want to be by remaining who we are."
Huddleston used geese as a metaphor during the ceremony to explain how the teachers should work together as a team.
"You know when you see them flying in formation and you can hear them honking up there?" She said. "They are up there honking to encourage each other to keep moving forward. The honk to motivate each other."
Both teacher and parents were excited about the start of the school year.
Wallace McBride contributed to this story.